THE Baguio Slaughter Compound is a memorable place for many locals and visitors alike.
The place is notable for relishing native meat cuisine, involving meat of livestock that are produced in the region, or imported from outside.
I particularly like half-half which is half plate goat meat and the other half, roasted pork. It can also be served as a dish of pork and cattle together.
The most memorable lunch I had at the slaughter compound's eateries was when Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol invited us there. That was when I discovered half-half, which was his order that he shared to us.
Well there are all kinds of meat dishes here with pretty sounding names like dinakdakan, dinuguan, bulalo, pulutan, soup number kilawen, adobo, crispy pata, lechon, binagoongan (pork), mechado, longganisa, sinigang, apretada, pinapaitan, kare-kare, caldereta, nilagang baka, and others.
After visiting the World Food Expo (WOFEX) at the Baguio Country Club last week, I invited our driver to eat with me at the slaughter compound.
While waiting for lunch to be served, I was wondering whether fresh milk should be included in the menu of the eateries here.
Milk is a complete food that would provide real nourishment to meat eaters that working highlanders are known for.
The problem is we could hardly produce our poultry, meat and milk requirements in the region.
We are dependent from other regions for our poultry and meat requirements. And like the rest of Filipinos, our milk requirements are also imported from abroad, mostly from New Zealand and Australia.
As far as I can recall, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been undertaking livestock dispersal activities in the region, since the establishment of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), more than three decades ago.
The intervention has been rationalized to support the establishment of local livestock industries, and to upgrade local stocks.
The activity is sustained until now, this time, with the addition of dairy cattle.
The inventory of livestock in the region released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) are as follows: Carabao, 85, 713 (January); Cattle, 55, 528 (January); Goat, 55,930 (January); and, Swine, 22,900 (January) - 227, 365 (April).
For poultry, the total inventory is 1,903, 464 (January) - 1,720, 817 (April).
Of this total, broilers accounted for 238, 672 heads in January but declined to 145, 525 heads in April. There were a total of 164, 970 layers in January that increased to 174,304 in April.
Native/improved chicken breeds accounted for 1, 499,822 heads in January that slightly decreased to 1,400, 988 heads in April.
Meanwhile, dairy consumption in the Philippines is growing. This augurs well for the Cordillera, long being eyed as a major dairy producer owing to a favorable weather.
With a population of over 93 million, the country is still dependent on imports of all dairy commodities.
Domestic milk is used only for ready-to-drink milk. Milk powders are largely used for reconstitution as ready-to-drink milk (either fresh or UHT).
Data from the National Dairy Authority (NDA) showed that the country has an import requirement of around 180,000 tons of milk powders.
Of the total, skim milk powder (SMP) accounts for around 110,000 tons while whole milk powder (WMP) imports make up around 35 tons.
Milk Powders (SMP, WMP, Whey and Buttermilk powder) constitute about 79 per cent of total imports.
New Zealand supplies 36 per cent of imports, followed by the United States at 25 per cent, Australia at 11 per cent and Malaysia at six per cent.
From 2005-2010, imports of milk powders have been growing at around one per cent per year while butter and cheese has been growing at 18 per cent annually.
Meanwhile, data from the Global Agricultural Information Network showed that the Philippines' annual milk production in 2016 was at 21.16 million liters only. Local demand is projected to rise with increasing preference for fresh milk.
The good news is that the government is implementing a livestock and dairy development program that aims to increase cattle population to 5 million from 2.5 million and milk production from 1 to 10 percent to meet national requirements.
This program, implemented by the Duterte administration has started the ball rolling for the Cordillera to actively participate in meeting the nation's meat and milk requirement.
Some of our farmers in the Cordillera, who have gone into dairying like Fonyte Dirije of Bontoc and Engineer Francisco Masferre of Sagada, both in Mountain Province are already demonstrating that dairy cattle and goat raising can prove to be a good livelihood and income source.
Mr. Domingo Cabfeng, staff of Mr. Dirije said that they are producing 12 liters milk daily from five goats today because their other goats are pregnant and therefore dry.
Aside from goat milk, they also produce 38 liters of milk each day from their dairy cows.
In Baguio City, fresh dairy cattle milk is sold from P35-P45 per liter.